The mindless veneration, often distortion, of poorly understood or anachronistic sacred texts have led to unhappy consequences in all religious traditions. When these are extended to the realm of societal mores and values in a changing world, the excesses of religious zealots degrade and denigrate the very best in any religious tradition.
There is a tug of war going on the world over, under the umbrella of every culture and tradition, between radical forces that are out to change societies in every respect – whether in matters pertaining to social justice or sexual morals – and those who will neither budge nor tolerate any deviation from their own perspectives on what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, what is to be allowed and disallowed, on the basis of the Ten Commandments, the Sharia, the Manudharmashastra or whatever that they regard as the last sacred word in moral law which one and all should accept, or else….
This morality-war is waged in increasing intensity among casual commentators on the internet and deep-thinking intellectuals who write books and give lectures, whether in India or the Middle East, in Western countries or wherever. Now and again, ideological warfare spills into the open, instigated by the prating and preaching of the more extremist elements who feel that unleashing a mindless mob can be more effective in achieving their goal of an imaginary Utopia than reasoning or persuasive discourse. The fundamentalists who burn abortion clinics in the Western (Christian) world, the honor-killers of their sisters and wives in the Islamic world, and the attackers of women in pubs in the Hindu world, and the like, are all spiritual cousins who belong to the same religion of Intolerance and Self-Righteousness. If such moral extremists are a periodic nuisance in civilized societies, they can become monstrously dangerous when they come to wield political power and police in any nation.
At this crucial juncture in human history it is incumbent upon spiritual and lay leaders to argue for the preservation of all that is good and glorious in their traditions, and also condemn unequivocally mischievous, criminal, and violent misbehavior in the name of any religion that tends to snub free expression of thought and stifle human freedom of action.